I was hoping my father-in-law would be a father figure but he wasn't. Who should I look to next as a father figure?

Answer

Nowhere. You need to enjoy the wonderful men in your life for who they are and not who you want them to be. Most likely, none of them will ever be a father figure and fill the emptiness you have for a daddy. That may happen in Hallmark made-for-TV movies but rarely in real life. Once you let go of that unreasonable expectation and practice acceptance, you'll find peace and start enjoying reciprocal relationships with men.

Like you and many other fatherless daughters, I was always looking for a dad figure whether it be an uncle, a teacher, a coach, or a boss. Instead of appreciating what each one had to offer, I was too needy and wanted too much. Therefore, I was always left hurt and disappointed.

With maturity, though, I finally realized that I had to make these bonds more relational, not transactional. I had to stop trying to get my childhood needs met for love, comfort, and protection. I had to start giving instead of receiving. The author and life coach, Iyanla Vanzant says, “What you focus on, grows!” I found that to be the case when I began celebrating each man for his special qualities and opened my eyes to how they were enriching my life.

When I stopped looking at my father-in-law as a surrogate dad who was failing me, our relationship began to flourish. Once I took that lofty expectation off the table, I could enjoy his sense of humor, his storytelling abilities, and his kindness toward my sons. I no longer expected him to fill the hole in my heart left by my dad. I had to do that myself through prayer, meditation, writing in my journal, spending time in nature, and forgiving my father.

Today, I'm the primary caretaker for my aging father-in-law. If I hadn't made peace with him years ago and let go of my expectations, I would be miserable and resentful helping him now. He's been a wonderful grandfather to my boys so caring for him, while difficult at times, is an act of love I do willingly.

Please stop searching for a father figure and enjoy the men in your life for who they are. Once you start to practice acceptance, you'll experience liberation and so much of your stress will dissipate.

Updated on October 13, 2019

Original Article:

Fatherless Daughters: How Growing Up Without a Dad Affects Women
By McKenna Meyers
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